Where Does the Dollar Do Best?

benniesFrommer’s has a helpful list of how far the sinking U.S. Dollar will get you in a handful of International Cities. As the article points out, it can be a bit of a shock overseas to see the decreasing buying power of a greenback in action, especially when compared to those snobby Euros and Pounds Sterling. Don’t be surprised to even see the value of those electronic bucks in your debit account back home shrink during the coure of your trip, in terms of what you an buy with them. But overall, dollars still go a very long way in many parts of the world.

Not surprisingly, Sri Lanka is one of the best values on the Frommer’s list. Developing countries allow visitors to live high on the hog, so long as you’re willing to give up a few western conveniences. We generally found that in India, a dollar has four times the buying power it would in an average American city like Denver. Put in even simpler terms, a dollar might buy you a bottle of Pepsi at a store in the U.S., whereas you could buy four bottles in Varanasi.

Of course, there are variations – stray far off the tourist path and shop with the locals at the village markets and speak a bit of the local language and you’ll soon find that buying power soaring even higher. At a small market in Laos we were able to buy enough fruit, meat, sweets, wine, beer and whiskey to provide a sumptuous feast for a group of more than a dozen, all for about 20 bucks.

Conversely, hang out in areas heavily populated by tourists like resorts, beaches, major attractions or capital cities, and you’re likely to shell out prices comparable to what you might pay at home. Nowhere is this disparity more appalling than in China, where prices in Shanghai and Beijing keep up with the west, while rural areas have third-world living conditions and prices.

The weakening of the dollar can also have some unpleasant side affects in other modern nations such as Japan, Ireland or Norway where you’re likely to find many things more expensive than in the U.S. A drive from Tokyo’s Narita airport to the southern suburban area of Yokohoma can cost you upwards of $60 in tolls alone.

And just in case you do plan to do any driving while traveling abroad, get ready for the biggest shock of all – most other countries, even developing nations, pay a much heftier price for fuel.